Woods knuckles down

2010-04-09 19:38
Tiger Woods (File)

Augusta - It was back to business as usual as Tiger Woods set off on the second leg of his comeback tournament at the Masters on Friday.

Following Thursday's blockbuster return to action, the fallen sports superstar said that he was interesting in just plodding along at the moment and keeping himself in contention for a fifth Masters title and 15th major overall, three shy of the record of Jack Nicklaus.

And while the crowds were still drawn to the tournament's main attraction, there was less of a buzz in the crisp morning conditions as he pulled his opening tee shot into trees left of the fairway.

That left him no chance of reaching the green in two, but he produced a magical braking chip from the front of the green to save par.

Woods grabbed his opening birdie of the day to get to five under at the par-five second when he chipped to six feet from the back of the green and made the putt.

But a moment of indecision over club selection at the tough par-three fourth saw him hook the ball well to the left of the green. He failed to get down in two from there leaving him three behind leader Freddie Couples.

Woods is attempting to become just the second player, after Ben Hogan in 1951 and 1953, to open his season by winning the Masters, following his five month layoff to deal with the sex scandal that turned his life upside down.

Physically, he is fine, but it is the mental side that poses the bigger quandary, he said, and that had been what he had been working on in practice the last few weeks.

"I didn't have the luxury of playing events coming into this tournament. Other players did," he said.

"So my practice sessions had to be more intense than usual.

"It has been done before. Hogan did it after the (car) accident. You have to take your practice seriously and go out there and play like you practiced, then everything will be all right."

With pin placings much more devlish on Friday than they were on Thursday, when 31 out of the 95-strong field ducked under par, Woods appeared to be content to chug along not dropping shots and keeping himself tucked in behind the leaders.

He parred holes five, six, seven and eight, the latter being one of the two par-fives that he eagled on Thursday to stay at four under.

Woos then reached the turn at level par 36 for the round with a fifth straight par, leaving him two shots off the pace.


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